April 27 to August 26 at STIMULTANIA
Phototography by Jean-Christophe Béchet, visible at STIMULTANIA (33 rue Kageneck, 67000 Strasbourg).
« There is an economical, a political and a geographical Europe, even a Europe of football. There is the Schengen Europe, the common currency Europe and the 28 countries which constitute the European Union… A multitude of different Europes exist. From Reykjavik to Istanbul, from Moscow to Lisbon, some borders are crumbling, others are being built; some roads are opened up, others are being closed. We might loose our point of reference: Do Eastern Europe and Western Europe still exist? Is there still a Southern Europe bordering the Mediterranean Sea and a Northern Europe of Lutheran heritage? What is left of the Europe of the Lumieres and Mitteleuropa which has been at its heart for such a long time?
My interest in Europe emerged in 1991 in Moscow. I was witnessing a “coup d’état” against Mikhail Gorbatchev which later caused the end of the UDSR. I knew then that our “old” continent was entering into a new era. During my travels I decided to document this visually. I realized the relativity of notions and borders; I felt the weight of climates and personal stories; I was interested in myths and those who perpetuated them; writers, musicians, poets or artists… Along the way, I began to feel more and more “European” but I also saw the scars of a political past which we haven’t overcome yet, as well as the hesitating promises of a common yet hypothetical future. I saw a fragile world with deeper and deeper running cracks. An uncertain space which crystallised our contemporary contradictions.
My photographs don’t explain anything. They don’t illustrate. They evoke. They tell the story of a journey, of a generation which believed in the end of borders and the end of nationalism. A generation that probably failed because it was too idealistic, too sensitive in regards to symbolism and too forgetful of the realities of everyday life. Instead of documenting periods of crisis and newsworthy moments, I preferred to concentrate on long periods of time. Those periods which characterize journeys without a real goal; a more literary timeframe with improvised encounters, forgotten places and uncertain atmospheres.
This “European Puzzle” offers an assemblage of street scenes, portraits and landscapes. Different visions captured in the flow of real life, often taken on the spot. May it be in colour or in black and white, I always paid as much attention to the architecture as to the human beings, to the climate and light settings, as well as to the little insignificant coincidences and the moments of history. That is how a sinuous and quiet journey which creates a dialogue between documentary work and poetic temptation was created.” Jean-Christophe Béchet
“European Puzzle” was produced by the Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau in Gentilly during the Month of Photography Grand Paris (april 2017).
Jean-Christophe Béchet was born in Marseille and now works and lives in Paris. Combining black and white with colour, analogue and digitalised methods, 24×36 and average formats, polaroids and photographic “accidents”, Jean-Christophe Béchet is always in search of the “right tool” in order to create a pertinent dialogue between an interpretation of reality and a photographic process.
As an heir of “street-photography”, may it be American, French or Japanese, he chose not to abandon the subjective domain by associating reporting techniques and landscapes, portraits and architecture. His vision of the world evolves from book to book, the printed page being his preferred medium of expression. He is represented by Les Douches gallery in Paris. His photographs are present in several private and public collections and have been presented in more than sixty exhibitions since 1999. He is also the author of around twenty books.